Online scams defrauded Canadians out of $13 million in 2017, according to the Better Business Bureau. Black Press files

Online scams defrauded Canadians out of $13 million in 2017, according to the Better Business Bureau. Black Press files

BC RCMP offers frontages as safe spaces for online sale exchanges

Canadians duped out of $13 million a year in online scams including robbery

It’s Fraud Prevention Month and local law enforcement agencies are promoting safer practises around online purchasing.

The B.C. RCMP have even offered online shoppers to use their space to exchange goods safely.

“We don’t have a sign, but you are always welcome to use the area in front of any of our detachments as a safer trading and meeting spot, for your buy and sell purchases,” the RCMP division tweeted, along with thumbnail images of 20 locations.

Online purchasing fraud was the most reported scam in 2017, according to the Better Business Bureau.

READ: Weight loss, cryptocurrency fraud among BBB’s top 10 scams of 2017

“We are advising people to meet anonymous online buyers and sellers where they feel safe and secure,” said Corp. Tammy Douglas from Island District RCMP in Victoria. “There are reports of people showing up with a lot of cash to buy a supposed item and getting robbed instead.”

While Douglas did not want to speak for other local law enforcement agencies’ willingness to have their building used to conduct transactions, she encouraged that such meetings take place in public spaces.

“If that happens to be near a detachment it is a safer option than a back alley or a deserted parking lot,” she said.

In 2017, Canadians were duped out of more than $13 million in online purchase scams; fraud of all kinds cost victims $95 million, according to the Bureau. They estimate that only five per cent of those victimized come forward, and project actual losses to be closer to $2 billion.

Online scams include sales on fake websites, bogus “free” trials and robberies stemming from an online sale arrangement.

anna.james@vicnews.com

VicPD